We stumbled upon this summer reading list and found it too compelling not to share! The list targets early and middle readers and was curated by author Lyn Miller-Lachmann alongside other educators, writers, and activists.
One of our own books, Lailah’s Lunchbox, is gratefully included. That one, as well as the others, should be in your plans for continued reading with your family this summer. Read on for titles and synopsis.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books. (Also available in Spanish and Swedish) (Triangle Square, 2013. 32 pgs.)
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan and Sophie Blackall. Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina’s fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help. (Viking, 2010. 40 pgs.)
Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza by J. L. Powers, George Mendoza and Hayley Morgan-Sanders. George was one of those kids. You know, the kind that never stays still. And then one day, the doctor said he was going blind. Did that slow George down? Not for a single second. In fact, he was so fast, he went on to break a world record for blind runners. And now he is breaking more barriers because ironically, George Mendoza, blind painter, paints what he sees.
George Mendoza started going blind at age 15 from a degenerative eye disease. It wasn’t the sudden onset of blindness that many people experience. George lost his central vision and started seeing things that weren’t there–eyes floating in the air, extraordinary colors, objects multiplied and reflected back. George describes this condition as having “kaleidoscope eyes.” He triumphed over his blindness by setting the world record in the mile for blind runners, and later competing in both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics for the Disabled. Now a full-time artist, Mendoza’s collection of paintings, also titled Colors of the Wind, is a National Smithsonian Affiliates traveling exhibit. (Purple House Press, 2014. 32 pgs.)
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng. In this beautifully written picture book, Hana Hashimoto has signed up to play her violin at her school’s talent show. The trouble is, she’s only a beginner, and she’s had only three lessons. Her brothers insist she isn’t good enough. “It’s a talent show, Hana,” they tell her. “You’ll be a disaster!” Hana remembers how wonderfully her talented grandfather, or Ojiichan, played his violin when she was visiting him in Japan. So, just like Ojiichan, Hana practices every day. She is determined to play her best. When Hana’s confidence wavers on the night of the show, however, she begins to wonder if her brothers were right. But then Hana surprises everyone once it’s her turn to perform — even herself! The Asian American female protagonist in this story offers a unique perspective, and bestselling author Chieri Uegaki has woven in lyrical scenes from Japan that add depth and resonance. The details in the artwork by Qin Leng connect the two places and contain a feeling of melody throughout. In the classroom, this book could serve as a celebration of music and performing arts, multicultural studies or the importance of intergenerational relationships. It is also a fabulous character education tie-in for discussing courage and perseverance. This terrifically inspiring book offers hope and confidence to all children who are yearning to master something difficult. Perhaps even more important, it allows children to see that there is more than one way to be successful at a task. (Kids Can Press, 2014. 32 pgs.)
Hungry Johnny by Cheryl Minnema and Wesley Ballinger. “I like to eat, eat, eat,” choruses young Johnny as he watches Grandma at work in the kitchen. Wild rice, fried potatoes, fruit salad, frosted sweet rolls—what a feast! Johnny can hardly contain his excitement. In no time, he’ll be digging in with everyone else, filling his belly with all this good food. But wait. First there is the long drive to the community center. And then an even longer Ojibwe prayer. And then—well, young boys know to follow the rules: elders eat first, no matter how hungry the youngsters are. Johnny lingers with Grandma, worried that the tasty treats won’t last. Seats at the tables fill and refill; platters are emptied and then replaced. Will it ever be their turn? And will there be enough? As Johnny watches anxiously, Grandma gently teaches. By the time her friend Katherine arrives late to the gathering, Johnny knows just what to do, hunger pangs or no. He understands, just as Grandma does, that gratitude, patience, and respect are rewarded by a place at the table—and plenty to eat, eat, eat. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014. 32 pgs.)
I Love Ugali and Sukuma by Kwame Nyong’o. A follow up to his well regarded ‘A Tasty Maandazi’ (2006) this latest children’s book by Kwame Nyong’o brings to life the world of the young African boy Akiki, and his love for his favorite food – ugali and sukuma wiki! (CreateSpace, 2013. 36 pgs.)
Imani’s Moon by Janay Brown-Wood and Hazel Mitchell. Imani is a young Maasi girl with a loving mother and a desire to do something great. When she decides she wants to touch the moon, she works hard to reach her goal, even in the face of teasing from the naysayers around her.(Mackinac Island Press, 2014. 32 pgs.)
Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers. This smash-hit picture book of jazz music poems, from award-winning father-son team Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers, is now available in paperback. There’s a crazy syncopation /and it’s tearing through the nation / and it’s bringing sweet elation / to every single tune./ It’s Jazz/ From bebop to New Orleans, from ragtime to boogie, and every style in between, this collection of Walter Dean Myers’s energetic and engaging poems, accompanied by Christopher Myers’s bright and exhilarating paintings, celebrates different styles of the American art form, jazz. “JAZZ” takes readers on a musical journey from jazz’s beginnings to the present day. Includes timeline and jazz glossary. (Holiday House, 2008. 48 pgs.)
Jonathan and His Mommy by Irene Smalls and Michael Hays. As a mother and son explore their neighborhood, they try various ways of walking–from giant steps and reggae steps to criss cross steps and backwards steps. (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 1994. 32 pgs.)
Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales. Señor Calavera has come for Grandma Beetle but she has ten more things to do before she’s ready to go. (Chronicle Books, 2003. 32 pgs.)
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi and Lea Lyon. Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom. Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs.
This gentle, moving story from first-time author Reem Faruqi comes to life in Lea Lyon’s vibrant illustrations. Lyon uses decorative arabesque borders on intermittent spreads to contrast the ordered patterns of Islamic observances with the unbounded rhythms of American school days. (Tilbury House Publishers, 2015. 32 pgs.)
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina by Monica Brown Ph.D. and Sara Palacios. Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. To Marisol, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just choose one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her. (Children’s Book Press, 2013. 32 pgs.)
My Colors, My World/Mis Colores, Mi Mundo by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Maya longs to find brilliant, beautiful color in her world. But when the wind blows, desert sand covers everything, and turns her whole neighborhood the color of dust.With the help of a feathered friend, Maya searches high and low to find the colors in her world. And she does—in the vibrant purple of her Mama’s flowers, the juicy green of a prickly cactus, the hot pink clouds at sunset, and the shiny black of her Papi’s hair.As they follow Maya’s search for all the colors of the rainbow, little readers will be inspired to look around and ask themselves, where can I find the colors in my world? Bilingual English/Spanish. (Children’s Book Press, 2013. 32 pgs.)
My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best and Vanessa Brantley Newton. Zulay and her three best friends are all in the same first grade class and study the same things, even though Zulay is blind. When their teacher asks her students what activity they want to do on Field Day, Zulay surprises everyone when she says she wants to run a race. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does just that. (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015. 40 pgs.)
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon. Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change. (Millbrook Press, 2015. 32 pgs.)
Tía Isa Wants A Car by Meg Medina and Claudio Muñoz. Tía Isa wants a car. A shiny green car the same color as the ocean, with wings like a swooping bird. A car to take the whole family to the beach. But saving is hard when everything goes into two piles – one for here and one for Helping Money, so that family members who live far away might join them someday. While Tía Isa saves, her niece does odd jobs for neighbors so she can add her earnings to the stack. But even with her help, will they ever have enough? Meg Medina’s simple, genuine story about keeping in mind those who are far away is written in lovely, lyrical prose and brought to life through Claudio Muñoz’s charming characters. (Candlewick, 2011. 32 pgs.)
The Phoenix on Barkley Street by Zetta Elliott. Best friends Carlos and Tariq love their block, but Barkley Street has started to change. The playground has been taken over by older boys, which leaves Carlos and Tariq with no place to call their own. They decide to turn the yard of an abandoned brownstone into their secret hang-out spot. Carlos and Tariq soon discover, however, that the overgrown yard is already occupied by an ancient phoenix! When the Pythons try to claim the yard for their gang, the magical bird gives the friends the courage to make a stand against the bullies who threaten to ruin their beloved neighborhood. (Rosetta Press, 2014. 32 pgs.)
The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park and Bagram Ibatoulline. From two extraordinary talents, a beautifully crafted picture book for the Christmas season. The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. In it we meet a boy who is learning his father’s trade; a man who gathers resin from certain trees; a merchant in the marketplace; and three strangers in brightly colored robes who are shopping for a gift for a baby. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline with exquisite paintings, this simple, moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Clarion Books, 2011. 32 pgs.)
We March by Shane Evans. On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience. (Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 32 pgs.)
Article originally posted here. Reposted to Tilbury’s site with author permission.